Traditional freshman project blasts off

Alexa Villatoro(left)  and Mr. Storer(right) are having a pep talk to help calm Alexa's nerves before she has to present on Thursday the 27 of April.
Alexa Villatoro(left) and Mr. Storer(right) are having a pep talk to help calm Alexa’s nerves before she has to present on Thursday the 27 of April.

RAHS’ Freshman Aviation English teacher Wayne Storer’s class freshman class presented the research they conducted for the Cassini space probe to an external audience taking place on four separate dates, the 18 and 19 of April and the 26 and 27 of April. The judges, professionals in the aviation industry, provide an opportunity for students to improve their presentation skills.


“This is yet another opportunity for students to express their ideas in ways that work for various audiences,” said Storer, “specifically not assuming anybody knows anything about their science, their reasoning, [and] about their logic, kids are forced to elaborate, elucidate clearly so their audiences can understand.”       


Storer works with  his students on elaborate projects to better understand how to present and how to express their ideas in an interactive manner, as Storer tends to believe “meaning is all that matters.”


“It grants students the ability to really work on [their] professional presentation skills,” said Storer. “We work a lot on communication and being able to express our ideas.”  


Guest audiences are brought in to challenge the students, giving them skills and experience to prepare them for jobs in the aerospace industry.


“It is the project that we do that is most closely related to the aviation and aerospace industry that we are connected to,” said Storer. “This is the the project that has the most in common with the careers that the student want to head into.”


Presenting for a panel of guest judges has many benefits for growth in skills like professionalism and how much effort was put into working on the presentations.


“I think it raises the stakes, it makes students recognize their level of professionalism their level of skill represents them,” said Storer. “They are representing themselves and their school to stakeholders outside of the building.”


The presence of outside judges has had a positive effect on how freshmen like Alexa Villatoro and her group approached this project.


“It makes me take the project a lot more seriously because people who actually do that for a living are going to be judging me,” said Villatoro, “which means they are going to be much harder than my peers or teachers.”


The Cassini presentations allow students to further extend their connections with professionals, which is especially important for freshmen, as many of these judges are or will be mentors to the RAHS student body.

“If we just had other teachers come in students wouldn’t feel like the stakes were so high,” said Storer, “it’s a great opportunity where freshmen can meet future mentors, future bosses, and futures colleagues.”  


Villatoro hopes to have a deeper understanding of her skillset based on the feedback that is given to her by the judges.

“[I want] honest criticism about my presentation skills and speaking skills,” said Villatoro.


Jim Voytilla the 787 Program manager for the Federal Aviation Administration and Michael W. Miller the Boeing Rapid Prototype & Modeling employee, were judges for the freshman class’s Cassini presentations. They love helping students develop their connections and abilities in the professional world.    


“For me it’s about the sustainability for our professions. I’ve worked through many professions in avionics, and every place I know is desperately seeking engineers,” said Voytilla. “Our schools are not putting our enough of them. I find it critical for schools like this that emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, so being a mentor here and anything I can do to ensure those students to propagate our future.”


Coming to this school and helping judge or mentor students gives these men who work in the field, a great perspective on how students work on assignments similar to the presentations.

“I am thrilled to see the effort that the students put into these presentations,” said Miller, “[I give them] an ‘A+’ for effort they are trying really hard to learn about these topics, they have plans for their lives and you can see that.”

The presentations from the class of 2020 impressed the judges, and showed how capable the group of freshman is.

“It’s really the awe of the students: how proficient they are and how knowledgeable they are of these facts,” said Voytilla. “It gives us hope for the future to see what great things students here are doing.”

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